An academic report revealed that both tech giants, Apple and Google track and share user telemetry data even after users opt-out of it. With the news spreading like wildfire immediately, both these top tech giants are in the limelight.
The study further revealed that Google leads the race by sharing 20 times more data of users than Apple despite vowing to not compromise user privacy. It also mentioned that 1MB of data is sent by Google Pixel when a user starts its device. It also sends 1MB of data every 12 hours when the Google device is underuse.
Similarly, Apple sends 42KB of data within the first ten minutes, and 52KB of data when the device is left idle. Both devices connect to their back-end servers every 4.5 minutes.
According to Trinity College researcher Douglas Leith, this data-sharing is done behind users’ backs and completely without their consent even when they consciously opt-out of it. When a SIM card is inserted into the device, Both Android and iOS send information to Google and Apple. This information includes the GPS location of users, nearby device addresses, and more.
Leith, in his study, also mentioned pre-installed mobile applications declaring that they also make network connections despite never being opened by users. These mobile apps included iCloud, Safari, and Siri of Apple and Google doc, YouTube, Chrome, Google messaging, and SearchBar of Google.
Leith reaching out to Apple and Google
Leith mentioned that he reached out to both Apple and Google after his report.
“Apple responded with silence despite three emails, while Google responded with clarifications”, said Leith. “After the report, Apple constantly denied the claims, while Google confirmed their intention to publicly notify users about telemetry data.”
Privacy risks of telemetry data
According to Leith’s report, telemetry data-sharing has significant dangers. Both Apple and Google can easily identify users through their data, monitor their activity, and exploit it. Take location as an example of this. He further mentions that collecting user data and sharing it is a dangerous aspect all in all and should be taken care of.
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